How to go around bends fast in a Go Kart
Imagine you had a magic trick to make your straights longer and your corners shorter. You’d be able to hit higher top speeds, no matter which kart you drove. Also, you’d be able to go through a bend faster than others. This article has the perfect tip for public rental karts where some karts are just slower than others. This trick will allow you to make up the difference.
I’m going to describe a throttle modulation trick that lets your kart hit higher top speeds down straights and through turns.
Terminology of racing corners
Wait up for a sec, let’s get some terminology out of the way first.
What is an Apex?
Check this satellite image of a race track, the racing line has been painted over the top in yellow. We travel this track in a counter clockwise direction. The red dots are the Apexes or the middle points of the curve of the corner.
What are Early and Late Apexes?
Note that the apex are at different positions in the corners. The term ‘Early Apex’ means a center point that is before the middle. A ‘Late Apex’ means a center point past the middle. A ‘Middle Apex’ or ‘Mid Apex’ is in the very center of the curve.
Note how on some corners the apex is in the middle of the turn, while on others the apex is past the middle point or what we call ‘Late’. Yet on other corners the red dot is before the middle of the turn, this is what we call ‘Early’.
Why are early and late apexes important?
The need for an early, middle or late apex depends on where you want to be on track for the next turn. For example on the ‘Late’ corner (pictured and labelled ‘Late’) we have a sharp right hander which leads into a left. We don’t want to apex this left too early because it tend to throw us wide on exit, and this will cost us time.
We also don’t want to enter the left hander from too far to the right of the track, because this will cause an early apex. To compensate we sacrifice exit speed on the first corner (right handed ‘Late’ corner) and allow ourselves to exit mid track in prep for the next left handed corner.
Considerations for Corner Entry under brakes.
Let’s think about what happens as you go through a typical corner under brakes. Usually you have to slow down first, this causes all the weight to shift to the front of a kart. Now keep that point in mind as we go through this because weight shifting is the key making this trick work.
Now because the weight shifts forward the back gets light, and this takes your rear traction away. Losing rear traction makes it difficult for you to get back onto the gas. That’s because if you try to accelerate before you have rear traction, (rear downforce) you will slide. And as a rule, sliding is slow.
To fix this problem my advice to new drivers is not to accelerate too early. I tell them, “wait until you reach the apex before getting on the gas again.”. This is a sure fire way to avoid sliding and to maintain maximum traction through a turn. It lets you approach a turn at maximum braking power, then gradually transition through the middle of the turn by coasting to the apex. When the front of your kart hits the apex, you can get back on the gas and rocket out.
This will be fast for a newer driver, but it is not the FASTEST way through a turn.
How to make your straights longer and hit higher top speeds.
Okay so we know that under brakes our weight has shifted to the front and we have diminished rear traction as we enter the turn. This is typical of a high speed turn that requires straight line braking. To compensate we are delaying our acceleration so that our rear can gain downforce again. So here is the trick.
BLIP THE ACCELERATOR before applying the acceleration.
Blip once. or blip twice. THEN Squeeze slow and smooth back onto the accelerator.
By blipping on briefly you achieve several things. The short burst will momentarily return power to the rear of your kart and balance it out again. But by coming off the gas instead of holding it down you will stop the power and the kart will be able to grab traction before it starts to slide.
Now here’s the magic of this. Because you now have traction you can get back on the gas earlier! And because you can get on the gas earlier your acceleration zones are extended. This is why we can say your straights are longer. The advantage to this is that you can reach a higher top RPM and higher top speed.
When applying this trick, after some practice, you will feel the weight of the kart shift towards the rear. It becomes a timing thing. I usually count in my mind, “one and squeeeeeeeze”.
You can experiment with this and try different techniques.
The goal is to allow yourself to get back onto the gas as early as a kart length or more earlier.
Conclusion, introducing the “Double Blip”
So what we have described is what we call around our local track, “The double blip”. The idea is to give yourself a quick short burst of power before you try to re-apply the acceleration during the exit of a turn. Give it a go. I’ve used this trick for years to dominate the racetracks that I visit. It works for me, and will work for you.